Ahead of WWDC, Apple bolsters AirTags privacy measures, says it's developing Android detector app
Apple is upping its privacy efforts with AirTags about a month after they hit the market, and before WWDC, its biggest developer event of the year.
Ian SherrFormer Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. At CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
is adjusting its approach to its AirTags sensors, changing the time they play an audible alert when separated from their owner. The company is also creating new ways to warn people if an unexpected AirTag or Find My network-enabled device is nearby.
The tech giant said Thursday that it's begun sending out updates to its AirTags, changing the window of time they'll make noises when potentially being used to track another person. Initially, the Apple device would play in three days. Now it'll begin to play at a random time inside a window that lasts between 8 and 24 hours.
To further reassure people about its AirTags, Apple said it's developing an app for
devices that will help people "detect" an AirTag or Find My network-enabled device that may also be unsuspectedly "traveling" with them. Apple iPhones already have a similar alert system built into their devices. The Android app will be released later this year.
"The recent introduction of AirTag included industry-first proactive features that discourage unwanted tracking," Apple said in a statement. The company added that its moves, which come a week before its online Worldwide Developers Conference event, represent a continued commitment to improve AirTags
Apple believes it's creating a deterrent to abuse by adjusting the amount of time before an AirTag alerts a nonowner to its presence, effectively introducing uncertainty to how they will work. The company's also already built in warnings into iPhones to alert people about AirTags traveling with them that they may not be aware of. And the unique identifying codes for each AirTag are frequently changed, and their communication is encrypted, which Apple says deters hacking and other unintended tracking efforts.
If someone finds an unwanted AirTag traveling with them, they can tap it with an iPhone or other near-field communication-capable phone to receive instructions on how to disabled the AirTag.
Apple said its updates for AirTags began Thursday, and will be automatically applied when in range of an iPhone. The company declined to provide more details about its upcoming AirTags and Find My accessory detection app for Android, saying it'll share more details later this year.